Weekly Meanderings

McCoyPic.jpgMy favorite blog-photographer is Steve McCoy, a pastor in our area. I hope you visit his photography stream. Great stuff and I picked this one for a winter scene. I’m hoping the road of this winter is coming to an end sometime soon. Enough already.

As you look down this wintry road toward Lent, I suggest that you take a good look at Christine Sine’s Lenten guide — and I, too, will have something to announce about Lent shortly.

NextWave1.jpgStephen Shields has put the emerging church conversation together very well. See here and here and here. I suspect this piece at Next Wave may well prove to be a pivotal piece in the next few years — it is a broadly-based, if all white male, perspective on what has happened and what could happen to the emerging movement.

An extensive study of Mark Driscoll by Molly Worthen.

Carolyn Custis James, an author, is part of an organization for women and men working together in a Blessed Alliance, and they have a conference coming up this March in Florida — check it out.

Dan Kimball’s latest hit — and I hear Dan likes the Apple Wheel.

What’s your favorite line in this story? And Mart DeHaan has some good lines …

7Deadlies.jpgDavid Fitch challenges Alan Hirsch’s contention that missiology precedes ecclesiology. As is always the case, David is on to something here but I need to see how “missiology” is defined before I can climb on board with him. But, Dan, some of us would prefer that the observer be distracted to the shelves! Erika has a good question and some good conversation. Kyle Strobel reflects on the seven deadly sins for theologians. On a steady basis, the iMonk puts up wonderful posts … here’s a good, thoughtful one. A vintage blogger with the sort of thing that blogs alone can do. Bob Robinson’s flow chart on missional churches. I totally agree with Fr. RobJ.R. gets salty about what many say about hell. Spirituality, children and a reflection by Henry Zonio.

This is where we are today and we need to concentrate on it more (Barna’s new report): “By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults
noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of
religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught
by a particular church. Although born again Christians were among the
segments least likely to adopt the a la carte approach to beliefs, a
considerable majority even of born again adults (61%) has taken that
route. Leading the charge in the move to customize one’s package of
beliefs are people under the age of 25, among whom more than four out
of five (82%) said they develop their own combination of beliefs rather
than adopt a set proposed by a church.”

Third Way truth-telling: “Like countless Africans, Mzolisa looks forward to Barack Obama becoming
America’s first black president Jan 20. But — like countless Africans —
Mzolisa says she will always be grateful to Bush for his war on AIDS,
which has helped to treat more than 2 million Africans, support 10
million more, and revitalize the global fight against the disease.”

Dobson.jpgLast week, as a bit of responsible journalism, we reported that Ed Dobson, a harmless conservative evangelical, tried to live like Jesus for one whole year. Well, that commitment led him to (gasp) sip on a beer or two and (gasp, gasp) to vote Democrat. Our responsibility didn’t end last week. There’s some Fallout for Ed, who evidently is no longer so harmless: here and here and here.

So what are we to do if this is accurate?

I can’t get over that pilot and co-pilot successfully landing that plane in the Hudson without loss of life. Awesome.

News and Views:

1. An excellent article on healthy foods we don’t eat enough.
2. One of Obama’s biggest challenges, with no easy solutions; but we hope and pray that Obama and others can resolve these serious health care issues.
3. Why wasn’t this news item worthy of national attention?
4. Bono probes the duality of Frank Sinatra’s famous song “I Did It My Way.” Keep your eye on Steve’s picture above when you read Bono’s piece.
5. Even Googling creates a carbon footprint.

You’d be tired too!

6. Charter schools, immigrants and the preservation of traditional culture.

7. It’s never too early to think through retirement plans.

8. Pinker is always interesting: the genome project. I suspect this will become a major issue someday.

9. Will churches/sermons follow suit?

10. A new virus that infects PCs.


Ernie.jpgOne of Chicago’s finest Cubs, Ernie Banks, may be blanketed with snow but he’s happy to be at bat. Ernie’s our best representative in the Hall of Fame.

Rickey Henderson is elected to the Hall of Fame, which means I bring out one of his famous lines: A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent
of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response
was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”

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  • I really appreciated what this journal had to say about the Driscoll article:
    Then a faithful friend pointed me to an article from the other side, to be fair:

  • It’s 6 below here in southeastern Wisconsin. Even so, watch Ernie’s fingers as they caress the bat: “Let’s play two today!”

  • Your Name

    Oh, and let’s pray for and help (in a substantial way), all those who are homeless and suffering in the Midwest tonight. Per Harris polls, Evangelical Christians are the most generous people in this country. God bless you.

  • John C

    Scott – thanks for these links – I always enjoy them and they are a valuable service to the online Christian community. Excellent profile of Driscoll in the NYT – very fine journalism. A balanced, dispassionate, contextualised account of a figure who usually provokes more heated profiles from friend and foe alike. Nice to read a journalist who is both historically and theologically informed (there aren’t many of those around!)

  • RJS

    With respect to Barna: By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.
    Although I realize that there are problems with this approach, I am encouraged that 71% of adults are thinking. Do you really think that Christians should choose a church and buy in lock, stock, and barrel to a set of beliefs and positions? All of these sets can’t be right – they are mutually exclusive, but more importantly as attempts by humans to wrestle with theology and its consequence every last one of them is wrong. To accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church is to turn off one’s brain and stop growing.

  • Scot McKnight

    Now that I’m getting over “Rick Rolling” my friend Dan Kimball…
    What struck me about this article is the sense that so many have of their freedom to construct their own views and, in my experience, that sort of procedure far more often is a matter of opinion than critical reflection based on Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. Instead, it is far more “this is what I think because this is what I think.”
    I’m with you on critical thinking; would to God more did that. If that is the problem Barna is finding, we’ve got no problem.

  • RJS

    You caught me on the Dan Kimball link for the first time in quite a while…pretty low.
    For many people it may be a symptom of individualism gone wrong. I don’t doubt that at all. But the solution isn’t advocating an authoritarian approach – teaching people to submit to a local doctrinal statement. The solution is a Christ-centered approach educating Christians to think about their faith, not indoctrinating Christians into sects.

  • Roger

    Can someone please help me understand our fascination with retirement? Is saving as much as possible for a possible future retirement something we should encourage? At the expense of helping the poor now?
    Is retirement modeled in the Bible or any time prior to now?

  • 28 voters did not vote for Rickey Henderson. I agree with Jayson Stark of ESPN.com who said of that fact that it is “Stupefying. Embarrassing. Inexcusable.” Rickey Henderson is one of the all time greats on the field. Sure, off the field he thinks he’s royalty, can’t do math, etc., etc., etc. – but on the field …

  • Andrew Murray

    @Roger #8,
    I think it is important to remember that caring for the poor is not the only biblical use for money, although it is a highly important one. Other biblical uses for money include providing for your family (which means making money, managing it wisely, spending it on consumer goods, etc.), saving for the future, being generous to the church, etc.
    Even a cursory reading of the book of Proverbs shows that “saving for the future” is an intensely biblical value. Therefore, insofar as “retirement savings” is legitimately but not lavishly “saving for the future,” it is a good and wise thing.
    I doubt that retirement is specifically modeled in the Bible or even much of church history, for at least two reasons: (1) life expectancies were not what they are today, and (2) prosperity & productivity were not what they are today. In other words, if someone works for 45 yrs today, he/she will be more productive and prosperous than someone working the same number of years in times past. He/she may also live well beyond the 45 yrs of work, thus introducing the possibility of a concept like “retirement.”
    So, saving for the future is a biblical value, and I suspect that retirement is simply a new expression of savings made possible in more recent times.

  • Andrew Murray

    @Roger #8,
    Also, you asked: “Is saving as much as possible for a possible future retirement something we should encourage? At the expense of helping the poor now?”
    I think the goal for a Christian should be to do both. We should aim to save for the future (though perhaps not “as much as possible” but rather “as much as needed”) AND help the poor here and now. There is no need to do either at the expense of the other; we can do both.
    (The writer of the article was simply pointing out that money saved early in life is better than money saved late in life, because of compound interest. His advice, then, was to save as much as possible early on. On this point, we should remember that saving for the future is not the only biblical use for money, which I think is what you expressed in your push back against the article.)

  • Roger

    Thanks, Andrew. Balance is certainly the answer. But that is the rub.
    Many/most westerners are already living lives of splendor and luxury Solomon would envy–just ask them if they would give up their electricity, TV, AC, cell phones, cars, e-mail, indoor plumbing, etc, to change places with him.
    So we are more prosperous than generations before–but in the midst of extreme poverty that cries out for help more than ever in contrast to our wealth.
    How much does God expect us to plan and save for continuing our luxurious but expensive lifestyles beyond our “productive” years? The volatile 2008 stock market raised the cost of the Retirement Dream considerably for many people. Should we now plow even more money into the Retirement Dream to make up for the losses (further shifting the balance from the poor to my retirement)?
    What if the retirement money lost last year had instead been invested in the poor and oppressed years ago? Isn’t the balance really a balance between retirement rewards and kingdom rewards?

  • Gloria

    It seems you are assuming that giving more money to the poor is going to solve the problem, and there are many studies showing that giving more money to the poor is not going to resolve the root issues. And there is nothing wrong with planning for the future/retirement so as not to expect the government to take care of a person just because she/he retires.

  • Roger

    Gloria #13, I’m not talking about solving the poverty problem (or oppression, etc.). I’m talking about following Jesus’ command to love them as I love myself.
    I love myself enough to save for a long, luxurious retirement of ease. How do I balance my retirement investment needs with the kingdom investments Jesus commands in the poor and oppressed today?
    Yes, my complaint is with the Retirement Dream. I don’t think Jesus is amused or pleased with much of it.

  • Gloria

    Roger, as someone said in an earlier comment, loving myself and others includes doing both. Caring for myself through planning for the future and caring for others all throughout the years as well. Obviously, this doesn’t just mean through money but in other ways as well.

  • I’m laughing over the “controversy” of someone drinking beer while trying to live a Jesusian lifestyle. In college some of our best Lutheran campus ministry experiences and most profound theological discussions were in the context of what one of my friends called the “bar ministry.”
    I’m afraid to imagine what your constituency would think of a Jesus who played euchre, went to the talking pictures or approved of girls with bobbed hair.

  • Roger

    Hmmmm. I wonder whether Mr. Dobson balanced his help for the poor with contributions to a Retirement Dream fund during the year he tried living like Jesus?
    Seems Mr. Dobson is doing quite well at remaining effective and productive beyond any arbitrary, societal “retirement” age. 🙂

  • Your Name

    Lutheran Chik: Jesus did love his wine!
    And now, point proven in these discussions. Does it matter what we PAY to help others or what we DO? Since I posted my response last night, how many of this blog’s readers helped someone suffering because of the arctic cold blast? Is money the same as service? In my “EX” church, the pastor insisted on tithing and then it was up to his “Spirit-guided” decisions as to where that money went. Personally, I believe that tithing is an throwback to the temple system of Old Israel and was done away with through Jesus. We now give and serve and sacrifice because of our love of God and others and not out of a sense of duty. Instead of arguing over whether my money should be spent on others or for my retirement, we should be doing something. Anything.

  • T

    Scot, re: this question: “So what are we to do if this is accurate?”
    I think that article indirectly touches on the same issue that you and Andy were discussing. How does Church formation, culture making, happen? It seems as if Andy is saying the action is in the smaller groups, with deeper relationships, and that we, the Church should focus our culture-making efforts there. Depth of transformation (or spiritual formation) is very difficult to achieve when the chief communal practice is very large groups with minimal relational interchange. To me, this is what gangs are willing to do and be for each other in the inner city, and, therefore, are winning the formational battle. Churches focus on events, even weekly events; gangs do highly committed small groups.

  • Brian

    Re: baseball
    That Ricky Henderson piece is funny.
    It reminds me of the no-brain reporter who asked Pete Rose, while chasing
    Ty Cobb’s hitting record, “Tell us Pete, what’s it gonna take to keep your
    hitting streak alive?”.
    You can imagine Rose’s reply to that!

  • Andrew Murray

    Roger #14: “How do I balance my retirement investment needs with the kingdom investments Jesus commands in the poor and oppressed today?”
    I think that is a great question for all of us to ask.

  • Scot,
    Early in your post you make this comment, “As you look down this wintry road toward Lent, I suggest that you take a good look at Christine Sine’s Lenten guide — and I, too, will have something to announce about Lent shortly.”
    I read Ms. Sine’s guide and thought it was interesting. It also got me thinking so I did a quick Google search and ran across this site, http://hope-of-israel.org/truelent.htm I like to know what your thoughts might be regarding that “historical” account of Lent.
    As always, enjoy the blog greatly.

  • jane

    Thank you, Joey, for the link reviewing the Driscoll article. Many warning flags went off in my brain while reading the NY Times article…Joking about violent means of settling strong opinions? Replacing people who disagree with your leadership? Segmenting a group of people to fulfill ‘roles’ rather than serving God with their gifts? On all of those accounts, I do not see the Jesus Creed…or the Bible. It makes my heart sad.
    It does point out the dangers of elevating a person, any Christian leader, to such levels of sole leadership. Team leadership/a plurality of leaders could avoid some of these errors… And we’d be wise not to elevate any person, but instead focus on worshipping and serving God together in community….
    Shalom on this day honoring a man who pointed to God’s heart that all people be free.

  • joanne

    I have no time for Driscoll and his antics. what kind of kingdom is he building? It’s not a kingdom I want any part of.
    I think the Kingdom is about the Spirit not the flesh, Driscoll is all about the flesh…the male flesh

  • Your Name

    Agreed with the above about Discroll. I would add that his treatment of women is scary. Have you read what he said about pastor’s wives “letting themselves go”? He said:
    “At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”
    I am afraid to have my daughter grow up in a world where people have these sorts of distorted views about women — particularly a pastor.
    And his personal attacks on McLaren and Bell that have been widely circulated were (a) at best recklessly inaccurate, and (b) bizarre guilt-by-association type attacks. I don’t agree with everything McLaren and Bell say, but they do a lot of good, and that sort of attack is just wrong.
    I could go on about Driscoll, but most importantly I’m concerned about the number of people he is turning off to the gospel by this stuff, which is a distortion.

  • Eric

    No. 25 is me.

  • Really nice of you to say about my photography, Scot. Thanks.